Fairy tale modernization is not a new concept. Whether done in movie form by DisneyPixar, print form by Marissa Meyer or theatrical productions like Wicked or Into the Woods; modern re-imaginings of classic fairy tales are a very popular trend in recent years. 3 Ninja Pigs continues this popular trend with the delightful writings of Corey Rosen Schwartz and wonderful illustrations by Dan Santat.
The setting is a fictional ancient China, where the two younger pig brothers and their elder sister are living in an area terrorized by the predatory wolf. Tired of living in fear of the wolf, the three pig siblings decide to enroll in the new ninja school. What follows is a clever re-imaging of the plot of the original story: the two pig brothers put in varying degrees of work into their ninja studies only to be defeated by the wolf, fleeing to the safety of their eldest sister. The sister, in contrast to the brothers, has studied long and hard at perfecting her karate and is able to frighten the wolf away with a display of her skill.
More than just a humorous book that is fantastically illustrated, 3 Ninja Pigs is an excellent learning tool and conversation piece for children and parents. The sister is a successful heroine not because of wandering lumberjacks or enchanted swords, instead she demonstrates the importance of hard work and perseverance to children. In addition, the detailed illustrations of ancient China and martial arts culture are supported in the back page with a glossary of terms used throughout the story. This helps parents to quiz their readers on various terms used during the story, or to help parents answer questions that young readers may have during the course of the reading.
All-in-all, 3 Ninja Pigs is an excellent and educational book. Rich illustrations and delightful, rhythmic story come together to form a book that is as fun as it is accessible to young readers. The book is a re-telling of a familiar classic, features a strong introduction to the importance of self-discipline, and offers parents a number of fun learning activities based around martial arts, ancient times or classical tales.